Despite coming in third in Tuesday's primary in Alaska, embattled Republican governor Frank Murkowski is taking a page out of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's (I-CT) playbook and is refusing to accept the verdict of the voters:
"With all that's at stake in Alaska and around the country, I cannot and will not let these results stand," said Murkowski, who captured 19 percent of the vote in his bid for a second gubenatorial term.
Promising to continue running as an independent Republican, Murkowski pledged to make this a "people's campaign".
For the moment it's unclear what provisions exist for allowing Murkowski to continue his campaign and whether new petitions and signatures supporting his new independent campaign have to be gathered.
Nevertheless, Murkowski, who before being elected governor in 2002, was elected to four terms in the U.S. Senate remains unbowed:
I'm staying in this race because I want to keep working for the things that matter to you and help meet the critical challenges facing our state and country...
I have always followed a different path. My 30 years of experience has been about bringing people together and solving problems...
That is what my campaign will be all about building a new politics of unity and purpose and delivering results for the people of Alaska.
I hope you will join me in this cause, no matter your political persuasion, to secure a brighter future for our state and our country.
Meanwhile, other endangered incumbents across the country are considering similar strategies to keep their jobs.
In Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Lincoln Chaffee faces a challenge from his party's conservative wing, Cranston mayor Steve Laffey, and trails his presumed Democratic opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse, in recent polls.
"It's a tough issue, no doubt about that", says an anonymous aid. "The Lieberman and Murkowski defeats certainly give us pause. At the same time, those elected officials' promises to fight on also give us encouragement in case the voters vote us out, too. We'll be watching their campaigns closely for clues as to how we might stay in this thing if the elections don't work out", said the aid.
Other embattled U.S. Senators, such as Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, and Mike DeWine are trailing in their re-election bids. But the moves by Lieberman and Murkowski may encourage defeated incumbents, even in general elections, to fight on and repudiate the will of the voters.
The fear of incumbents is so wide spread that even some not on the 2006 ballot are re-considering their options when term limits and other technicalities threaten their political futures.
President George W. Bush, for instance, received a welcome bit of cheer from a totally spontaneous visit by Rockey Vaccarella, an average citizen from the Katrina-striken gulf coast who thanked the president for his FEMA trailer and expressed his hope that Bush could be persuaded to run again for a third term, even though the Constitution prohibits it.
Bush's aids soft-pedaled talk of an un-Constitutional third term, but sources close to the Vice President expressed their interest in foregoing the next election on account of the "war on terror". The aids believe that a little known idea known as the unitary-executive theory may exempt the current administration from the 22nd Amendment and allow President Bush to run again in 2008.
While aids to President Bush and other embattled incumbents are wary of public reaction to their attempts to maintain hold over their entitled offices, others are confident the news media, particularly cable television, will provide the popular cover they need.